When it comes to approaching people who make the buying decisions, whether that's for a retailer or event, it's vital to find the right person. It's also important to remember that getting approached by businesses is a big part of their job - so you need to make sure your product stands out. We asked Bhavi Kanadia, founder of Jeeva Naturals, about finding those all-important contacts and making a great impression.

What stage was your business at when you won your first contract?

We were lucky that during the early stages of starting up we were able to win the confidence of a few major high-end retailers and they really helped me to get the Jeeva Natural brand established. I am absolutely delighted to be able to say that we are currently listed in some of the most beloved premium retailers in the world, including Fortnum & Mason, Harrods and John Bell.

Jeeva Coconut water - Tumeric

Jeeva Coconut water - Tumeric

Because I’ve always believed that Jeeva should stand for the very highest quality, it was easy for me to imagine my brand listed in those places from a very early stage – so I put my efforts here. Focusing on that standard of retailer from the very start, and working hard to get them on board, helped my brand get introduced to a wider market.

Who did you approach, and how did you find the right person?

I learnt very early on in the pitching process how vital it was to make the right approach. Mistakes such as sending samples to the wrong people can be both time-consuming and costly.

It is extremely important to do your homework – for example, finding out who the correct decision-maker is and connecting with them through Linkedin. I find this is an effective strategy as it means they get a chance to know who you are and have a fair idea of what you do. My advice would be to follow up any introduction with either an email or, ideally, a visit. This has worked better for me in the past as emails can easily get buried in the junk folder or missed altogether.

You have to remember to be persistent and have faith and, perhaps most importantly, be confident. Keep trying in as many different ways as you can to find contact details for the buyers you want to get in touch with. Approach them via email or simply call their switchboard and try to find the right point of contact. There are also a handful of really effective ways to find out what events buyers might be attending, from LinkedIn to a straightforward Google search. Always remember to focus on the selling points of your business – those elements that make it unique.

What was the pitching process like? How did you prepare?

Again, I made every effort to make sure I was getting in touch with the right people and did my research on them. I also ensured that I knew exactly how I wanted my business to come across and which points would appeal to which buyers.

Jeeva Coconut Water

Jeeva Coconut Water

How long did the whole process take?

There is no set time limit, really. If luck is on your side, everything might get wrapped up within a few months - otherwise it could take as long as a year! In my case, the initial process seemed slow at first, but with a little patience and a lot of persistence I gained my first high-end retailer – and after you get one the rest swiftly fall into place.

Any other tips?

Never give up or be disheartened. Remember to always ask for feedback if you are denied or they say they are not interested. You will be dealing with people who know their field very well, so it’s a great opportunity to ask for advice. If they tell you “No”, then ask “Why not?” Maybe it’s a case of bad timing, or perhaps you have given them the wrong product for their business – or it could be as simple as a pricing issue. Try to identify whether or not there is some way you can help them or benefit their business. And always remember to present your product in a way that makes any potential benefits to the buyer as clear as possible.

Get the Virgin StartUp Business plan

The information contained in this website is provided for information purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice on any matter.  Use of this website is at users own risk and is not intended to create a lawyer-client relationship between Virgin StartUp and any user. Information displayed on this website is provided “as is” and Virgin StartUp does not provide any express or implied warranty or representation concerning the information, including but not limited to the accuracy or appropriateness of the information. Virgin StartUp recommend that users seek their own legal advice before taking (or refraining from) taking any action and do not accept any liability in respect of any actions taken or not taken based on any or all of the information displayed on this website to the fullest extent permitted by law.